The fall quarter at SPU is just about upon us. On Tuesday, my grad course on Philippians begins. Each week, students will read 1-2 articles on Philippians. I have chosen a good number already, but I am very open to suggestions regarding which articles and/or seminal essays my students should read. These are students largely going into ministry, so nothing too esoteric. However, they do know Greek and are eager to learn historical, literary, social, and theological issues.
I will get back to you with my preferred reading list in a week or two.
Those who get their items to me (via comments) earlier will more likely be considered for my reading list. However, at whatever point you decide to contribute, I am all ears/eyes!
I absolutely love CBR, as it has such excellent scholarship and offers useful information on a number of topics for the busy scholar.
This issue (Oct 2010), we have articles on pistis Christou, the letter to Titus, the relationship between individual and community in Paul, and the meaning of Ioudaios (among other articles).
Check it out!
May I commend to you a new book by my SPU colleague Brian Bantum called Redeeming Mulatto: A Theology of Race and Christian Hybridity?
This is the book description:
The theological attempts to understand Christ’s body have either focused on “philosophical” claims about Jesus’ identity or on “contextual” rebuttals—on a culturally transcendent, disembodied Jesus of the creeds or on a Jesus of color who rescues and saves a particular people because of embodied particularity.
But neither of these two attempts has accounted for the world as it is, a world of mixed race, of hybridity, of cultural and racial intermixing. By not understanding the true theological problem, that we live in a mulatto world, the right question has not been posed: How can Christ save this mixed world? The answer, Brian Bantum shows, is in the mulattoness of Jesus’ own body, which is simultaneously fully God and fully human.
In Redeeming Mulatto, Bantum reconciles the particular with the transcendent to account for the world as it is: mixed. He constructs a remarkable new Christological vision of Christ as tragic mulatto—one who confronts the contrived delusions of racial purity and the violence of self-assertion and emerges from a “hybridity” of flesh and spirit, human and divine, calling humanity to a mulattic rebirth. Bantum offers a theology that challenges people to imagine themselves inside their bodies, changed and something new, but also not without remnants of the old. His theology is one for all people, offered through the lens of a particular people, not for individual possession but for redemption and transformation into something new.
I think Brian has put his finger on a profitable and insightful solution to the question of Jesus’ “mixed” identity. I have not read the book, I confess, but I am fascinated by the approach and I look forward to cracking it open sometime (soon?). While the title “mulatto” does not apply to my children, they are mixed: as my four-year-old once said at pre-school when asked what her ethnic background was: “I’m mixed up.” Yes!
Check out the book here.
So, I do Powerpoint – it has become the academic standard for how to keep students and auditors “engaged” and to inform and inspire in ways that appeal from a visual/audio standpoint. Fair enough.
How can we “kick it up a notch”? How can we spice it up even further? Look no further- introducing Prezi - the next big thing in presentation software. And – the most important part – its free!
At some seminars for SPU that I attended recently, many presenters were using Prezi just because it looks cool and does cool things. It can’t do everything that Powerpoint can, but there are some things that will just seem more fluid and visually comprehensible thanks to what Prezi does.
Now, it is not going to replace what I do with Powerpoint. For now I am using Prezi (did my first test-run today at home) for some things that zoom in and out looking at “big picture” sorts of issues.
Anyway, it is worth checking out and at the very least will inspire other developers to compete in the “free” software arena.
After you have tooled around for a while, let me know what you think! Also, if YOU have done any free-for-everyone Prezi stuff (especially in Biblical Studies), do share.
I was pleased to discover recently that my colleague at SPU Jack Levison is editing a new book series with Walter de Gruyter called Ekstasis: Religious Experience from Antiquity to the Middle Ages.
Their editorial crew is impressive: David Aune, John Collins, and Chris Rowland are on board (alongside several other goo scholars).
For more info see here. If your research or conference fits their subject description, do consider publishing with them. I had a good experience with WdG overall (in the BZNW).
I have finished my second week officially on the Seattle Pacific University faculty, and we just returned from an all-faculty retreat on Whidbey Island where the univ owns a retreat center called Camp Casey (a former military compound right on the beach!).
Let me say, this place (SPU) is amazing on all levels. My family and I love Seattle – we love the food, the coffee, the people, the nature, the culture, the innovative and creative environment! The people at the university, whether staff, students, or faculty are incredibly friendly and cordial. Folks who studied here (alum) rave about SPU and many stick around and become staff or faculty.
The School of Theology is really top-notch. It is quite large, but remarkably intimate. The faculty here are men and women of passion, inspiration, maturity, and wisdom. I honestly think that they would be hard to beat in terms of a world-class university faculty that is also deeply pious and driven by theological motivations.
If you are considering either a place to do a Bachelor’s or a Master’s (in theology or otherwise), do consider SPU. A truly amazing place with fantastic people!
If you are a pastor and/or teach the Bible in any way (university, sunday school, home bible study), you really need to know about Bible Study Magazine. It is relatively new, but extremely well produced and full of outstanding content. Some of their charts and graphics are stunning and will reach students and young adults in ways that surpass other forms of communication.
This magazine is not cheesy or parochial. Nor is it obsessively trendy. It is the right balance of “ecumenical” (in the good sense!), orthodox, and relevant.
I am a little bit biased because I am friends with some of the BSM folks and also I wrote an article in the most recent issue (on the law in Galatians, check it out!). However, I have been talking about and appreciating this magazine before they asked me to write (honestly!).
For a great discussion of Bible translations and why all the fuss, check out Dan Wallace’s piece.
Honestly, given all of the shallow “Christian” magazines out there, I was surprised (before I knew of BSM) that there was not something really good that goes deep and brings the Bible to life. I used to read Discipleship magazine by Navpress but that was more focused on (duh) discipleship. There was Bible Review, which I loved, but that is gone (I think). This mag fills a great void. I wish I had the funds to get my own subscription. Hmm…if I write for every issue I will get it for free…hmm….
Seriously – check it out.
You may have come across the launch volume of the Mohr Siebeck journal Early Christianity, a fine set of articles and reviews that show a lot of promise for the journal. Also, the editors are top notch and the international flavor of the journal is appealing.
So, what is next? A table of contents for the next volume is available. I am particularly interested in Attridge’s piece.
Though I am a “Paul” guy by education, I have a strong interest in Jesus studies as well. Currently I am reviewing a number of books on the Historical Jesus. Here are some notes…
Finding the Historical Christ (Paul Barnett; Eerdmans, 2009).
In this third volume in a series entitled “After Jesus,” Barnett sets his sights on deconstructing the popular academic assumption that there are two Jesus (of history, and of faith) and that Jesus only became “the Christ” to his disciples retrospectively as a result of Easter faith.
Early in the book (chs. 2-3), he attempts to establish that the canonical Gospels are both early and reliable historical sources. He also discusses the “Hostile Sources” – Josephus, Pliny, and Tacitus. In the fourth chapter, Barnett relates a historical reconstruction of the basic narrative of Jesus told by Christians. He comes to the conclusion that the apostolic summaries of the Jesus story “were formulated in Jerusalem within the college of the apostles led initially by Peter” (p. 73).
Chapters 5-7 deal with Mark, Luke, and John, investigating their origins, sources, and purposes. Somewhat unique to this study is the discussion of “Christ” in Paul’s letters where Barnett points out that Paul uses the term “Christ” of Jesus regarding his identity after the resurrection, but also before.
Finally, before a short concluding chapter, Barnett looks again at some details in Mark and argues that in such minutiae Mark seems to get social, biographical, and geographic details right. This, he reasons, should offer it some overall credibility.
I need to make a few confessions up front. First, I had a terrible time trying to follow the flow of the chapters. Thus, it is hard for me to judge as a whole. Secondly, I have not really been a fan of his work in general. However, in the details there are a few things to admire.
First, Barnett demonstrates a wealth of historical knowledge. For example, when dealing with the question of “How can we trust the disciples to offer a true depiction of their beloved teacher?”, Barnett gives the example of Suetonius’ writings on Vespasian. Despite the emperor claiming on his deathbed that he was “becoming a god” (line 24) and Suetonius’ title for the work being Vespasian, Afterwards Deified, we still find Suetonius capable in his writing of portraying the emperor as a “nongodlike, all-too-human man” (Barnett 3).
Secondly, and I already hinted at this above, Barnett helpfully brings Paul into the discussion as a source.
However, I had many frustrations with Barnett’s logic and argumentation in the details. For example, he has a habit of making questionable conclusions based on meager evidence. He is quite sure that Mark 11-16 was written as a separate entity. He takes the “we” passages in Luke literally without much interaction with the debate. He assumes the “naked man” in Mark must be the author. He speculates why the high priest is not named in Mark.
In any case, I found this book an interesting read, but not something I would recommend to others. I believe reading a combination of the works of Bauckham, Blomberg, and Hengel will get you to some of the same ends without the confusion.
The Historical Christ and the Theological Jesus (Dale Allison Jr.; Eerdmans, 2010)
Perhaps on the other side of the world of Jesus studies from Barnett we have this short (124 pp.) series of lectures by one of my favorite scholars, Dale Allison. I first encountered Allison’s work in the book Seeking the Identity of Jesus. In many ways, this book offers his latter-career reflections on Historical Jesus studies. In a nutshell, he has grown tired and skeptical of the methods and hopeful aims of the guild. Too much work and time have been wasted trying to do “scholars’ work” to find Jesus hidden in texts and artifacts.
I don’t want to label this book as cynical, but it borders on it. Allison is very personal, autobiographical, and frank in this book. It is like one long Facebook update.
Allison comes right out and admits that even he is guilty of finding the Jesus he wanted to find – an eschatological prophet. Tools or no tools, he discovered this same Jesus time and time again. He argues, instead, for a model of study that looks at larger patterns rather than criteria that question or confirm one word or saying.
I was quite impressed with Scot McKnight’s endorsement of the book where he places Allison in the same category (of fine Jesus scholars) as Kaehler, Schweitzer, Bultmann, and Kaesemann. I highly recommend this book as well.
I would think, though, that this book would be more useful if you have spent some time in NT scholarship and study, rather than if you are beginning your theological/Biblical studies. While being a very “light” book physically, it weighs heavy on the soul of the historian and theologian.